Raila takes Azimio campaign to Gusii as more Ruto allies decamp

ODM leader Raila Odinga addressing delegates during ODM National Governance Convention at Bomas of Kenya on February 25, 2022. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

ODM presidential hopeful Raila Odinga heads to Gusii region today as the battle for the area's more than 800,000 votes heightens.

Raila and other Azimio la Umoja leaders will address rallies in Nyamira and Kisii counties.

In 2017 polls, Raila garnered 210,305 votes in Kisii and 89,638 in Nyamira while President Uhuru Kenyatta bagged 163,928 votes and 100,658 in Kisii and Nyamira respectively.

The situation appears to have now changed in favour of Raila, with most leaders who opposed the ODM leader now rallying behind the former premier.

The visit comes even as most local leaders scramble to join the Azimio's friendly parties.

However, there are two parallel ODM camps in Kisii. One is led by Senator Sam Ongeri and Woman Rep Janet Ongera and seems to have the support of former Roads Chief Secretary Chris Obure, KNC party leader Manson Nyamweya and host of other party aspirants. The other camp is led by Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati and Kitutu Chache South MP Richard Onyonka.

Kisii Governor James Ongwae says ODM is keen on clinching more elective seats. “I have been in power for the last 10 years and there is no doubt that ODM enjoys unwavering support in the region. We are ready and equal to the task,” he said.

Despite making political forays into the region, Ruto and his UDA allies are having a hard time as a high number of aspirants want to associate with Azimio.

The latest are UDA treasurer and former MP Omingo Magara, and youth leader in the Ruto's office Anthony Kibagendi, who have now left the DP camp.

Kibagendi is seeking the ODM ticket to vie for Kitutu Chache South parliamentary seat.

Kisii Deputy Governor Joash Maangi, who was at some time seen as Ruto’s point man in the region, abandon the DP last year.